Air Pollution in the United Kingdom SMOG London, the capital of the United Kingdom, is notorious for air pollution. In fact, the word smog was first used in 1905 to describe the air in London. Smog is air pollution caused by sunlight acting on gases from automobile and factory exhausts. It sometimes hangs over cities in the United Kingdom. Thick London smog happens when water in the air mixes with smoke particles from a coal fire. In the Great Smog of 1952, the smog was so dense that, for four days, the people in London could not see what in front of them. London Smog Transportation was slowed, crime increased, and thousands of people died from the pollution. People around the world were suddenly frightened. They began to worry about the quality of the air they were breathing in London Smog The United Kingdom’s major natural resources are oil, natural gas, and coal. Much of the United Kingdom’s manufacturing uses these resources. Factories were built in Europe near coal fields The Industrial Revolution began around the coalfields where fuel was cheap and available. Many people in the UK work in these coalfields. Today, coal from these fields still fuels the country’s power plants. It also burns in fireplaces and stoves in many homes. The use of coal is decreasing. However, this means fewer jobs for workers in coal mining. In the past, the major source of air pollution was smoke and sulfur dioxide from burning coal or other fossil fuels. Today, exhaust from gasoline and diesel powered vehicles is the major problem. Asthma and pneumonia are linked to vehicle emissions. This makes people concerned about air pollution and health. It burns the lungs, nose and eyes and endangers human life. High air pollution keeps children and senior citizens indoors. Air pollution also blackens buildings and threatens wildlife. As far back as the 1300s, King Edward I tried to solve the problem by banning coal fires. After the Great Smog, the government created smokeless zones in London where only smokeless fuels could be used. Cleaner coals, increased use of electricity, and use of gas have reduced air pollution. Today the government sets limits for industry. Laws have forced automakers to build vehicles that produce less harmful exhaust. The government regularly checks air quality. It asks citizens to drive less and use cleaner forms of energy. Londoners no longer experience the blackout smog of the 1950s. Air quality has improved. However, the UK still ranks in the top 10 in the world in harmful industries emissions. Air pollution in the UK continues to cause acid rain in many countries in Western Europe.